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Sheepshead Bay • Brighton Beach • Marine Park • Manhattan Beach • Coney Island • Gravesend • Gerritsen Beach • Mill Basin • Kensington

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Your Global Commerce Connection Vol. 7, No. 3, March 7 - March 21, 2011

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Legislators say:

No Crash Tax! Page 5

“Want to light up at the beach? Fuhgeddaboudit!”

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DaviD J. Glenn Publisher Suzanne H. Glenn Editor aRTHuR MelniCK Associate Editor ReDRaCH PRoDuCTionS Graphic Design & Production WritErs & Contributors angelina Tala eric lima i. Friedin Joseph Reisman Kerry Donelli Jacqueline Donelli Matt lassen

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Nothing nanny-ish about it

In a recent editorial, the Daily News ridiculed state Senator Carl Kruger, calling him “Nanny Carl,” for his renewed proposal to make it illegal for people to use an iPod, cell phone, or any other of the array of mobile devices while crossing the street. While we often agree with the Daily News, and often enough disagree with Carl Kruger, this time we come down squarely in Kruger’s camp. There is nothing nanny-ish about Kruger’s bill. Crossing the street while engrossed with a mobile device is stupid and dangerous. Kruger cites in a news release just two examples: A popular video circulating on YouTube shows a woman in conversation on her cell phone walking straight into a park

Best choice? So this is the excellent manager that our school system simply couldn’t do without. Let’s see how Cathie Black used her purported management skills – so vaunted by Mayor Bloomberg – to solve the serious overcrowding in the city schools. “Could we just have some birth control for a while?” she said at a recent task force meeting on overcrowding. Her spokesman described the

fountain. And in December 2010, a 21-year-old man listening to music through his headphones on a Manhattan street corner was crushed by a Mack truck after he apparently failed to hear the vehicle’s backup signal. (It should be noted here that the mother of the victim was reportedly angry that Kruger cited the tragedy, because, she said, he implied that it was her son’s fault even though the truck was backing up the wrong way on a one-way street. We certainly understand the mother’s feelings, but this is not a matter of blame-the-victim. It has to do with what we think is obvious – that if you’re effectively blocking out the sound around you while crossing the street, you’re not going to hear a vehicle coming toward

you, whether the particular driver is obeying traffic laws or not.) “You can’t be fully aware of your surroundings if you’re fiddling with a Blackberry, dialing a phone number, playing Super Mario Brothers on a Game Boy or listening to music on an iPod,” Kruger said. “Tuning in and tuning out can be a fatal combination on the streets of New York.” Maybe the Daily News considers government requirements for seat belts as being like a nanny, even though the law has saved countless lives. What about walk, don’t walk traffic-light symbols? Isn’t that like a nanny helping us cross the street? We just realized something – around the time it published its editorial, the Daily News started making its tabloid available on iPods…

comment as “an off-handed joke.” No one’s laughing – especially since she went on to compare the need to set priorities for different schools to the 1982 movie, “Sophie’s Choice.” In that film, you may remember, Sophie, played by Meryl Streep, had to choose which of her young children would have to die at the hands of the Nazis. Big yuk, isn’t it? It’s just about as funny as birth control, something that is discouraged not only by Catholics but also by many other religious and cultural groups, and that in any case is not anything to be taken so lightly. Couple this with the fact that

Black, whom Bloomberg picked in a secret selection process and who has absolutely no experience in education (she wouldn’t even be qualified to be a classroom teacher), offered no viable solutions to school overcrowding that we know of. Maybe her comments would be more acceptable at a board meeting of Hearst, Inc., where she was a key executive. There, the concern is solely with dollars, not with children, parents, and teachers. Please, Ms. Black, go back to your old job. You’d be more comfortable there – and the city would be better off.

Letter to the Editor

‘We don’t stand a chance’ In response to the article regarding parking tickets, I, too, saw a DOT agent ticketing my car as I stood in front of my building on Nostrand Avenue on May 8. I was parked on the opposite side of the street and quickly crossed over to ask why I was getting a ticket as I was parked in a legal spot. She just said I was parked illegally as this was a two-hour parking area and that she had timed my car and several others that she also ticketed. I explained this was residential parking, there were no meters, no muni-meters, and no signs. She said there was a two-hour parking sign -- practically a block away which Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein’s office agreed to help remove, since parking in front of

the apartment buildings is residential. To date the sign has not been removed. I explained that our cars are never ticketed as some cars are parked for days. If this were two-hour parking, residents would literally have no place to park. I pleaded NOT GUILTY and explained why. I was offered a reduced fine or the opportunity to send documentation. I took pictures of the entire block, showed where the sign was, where residential parking began and ended and where parking meters began. From the May 8 day of the ticket until July 20, I documented every day, each and every time I went in and out of my building, that I never again saw any cars ticketed. I also documented the date and

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times that I witnessed other DOT agents walking by, checking windshields and never ticketing any of the cars for illegal parking. I submitted both the pictures and the daily documentation of more than two months -- I was still found guilty! I almost understand why people pay tickets even when they are not guilty because it seems we don’t stand a chance and it is easier just to pay it. All I accomplished was spending additional money on film and postage. I guess I thought the judgment would be fair. What I don’t understand is, if this is truly two-hour parking, why are all the agents not ticketing all cars, every day, all these years, since this would be a gold mine for DOT and Mayor Bloomberg. name withheld per writer’s request

SPOTTED AROUND THE BAY

Not that we encourage any graffiti, but it was a little refreshing to see a positive message scrawled at the northbound bus stop on Nostrand Avenue at Voorhies Avenue:

“Life without you is like a broken pencil – pointless” Page 3


How can you stop violence? ‘Step up and get involved’ violence – and that they should be directly involved in the child’s activities in school, after-school, and on weekends and holidays. Ronald Stewart from Men United for Change pointed out that children copy the behavior they see at home -- if they see violence as a way to resolve disagreements, they will likely imitate the behavior outside the home. “We keep saying our children are violent, but when they came into this world the violence already existed,” he said. “If you have a problem with someone you have to sit

together and show that there are individuals that care. When the DEA arrested me, they kicked down my door info@baycurrents.net and took over my bank accounts. Now I have nothing to show for it. You can’t get a pension or a retirement as a On July 30, 2010, a 13-year old boy in a wheel chair was drug dealer – it’s jail or the cemetery, and I thank Heaven I shot in Coney Island. On the 31st, a 24-year old man was am still here today to give my testimony.” shot point blank. Stewart related how he met members of the two largest On August 16, there was a march against violence and most notorious gangs in the United States, the Bloods organized by Urban Neighborhood Services located at 1718 and the Cripps. He learned from speaking with them that Mermaid Avenue; at 2 a.m. the very same night, there was the major reason their gangs were involved in gun violence a shooting right in front of the UNS office. was because of crack cocaine. “When you put a gun in On Nov. 29, a young man was killed. someone’s hands it is a false sense of power. They The Coney Island Coalition Against want to use it,” Stewart says. Violence is seeking ways to stem the tide – Untreated mental disorders can also cause violent actually, more like a tsunami – of violence behavior, said Campbell. “You are not supposed in the beachfront community. to understand mental health in Black, Latino or One step could be to convince immigrant communities,” she said. ”They are telling the investors of the planned luxury their children not to cry and shaming them. When you condominiums and the large corporations have a sore throat you see a doctor to get it treated, that are now conducting business in Coney why is it any different when you have a sore mind?” Island to get involved, Mathylde Frontus, She added that rather than seek professional help – founder and executive director of Urban which is available for free under many programs and Neighborhood Services, said at a Coalition agencies -many people choose to self-medicate with conference recently held at the Liberation drugs, alcohol or risky sex. High School gym at 2865 West 19th Street. Jose Gonzalez, a Guardian Angel, said that She said they could volunteer or make communities are always happy to see the Guardian donations to organizations like the UNS. Angels patrolling their neighborhoods -- especially “People with deep pockets don’t want to after a violent crime -- but they never like to get admit there is a violence problem in Coney directly involved themselves. He stressed that the Island because it may harm Coney’s image suspect who allegedly murdered the young man as a year-round destination,” she said. in November was a repeat offender in his 50s -- if Hope Campbell from the New York witnesses to his earlier crimes would have notified The festive summer scenes at Coney Island belie the violence that plagues the oceanside neighborhood. City Anti-Violence Project cited “racism, law enforcement, the man may have been in jail and sexism, classism, and ageism” as all the young man would be alive today. contributing to violence committed by down and talk with them. In my house no one goes to sleep “A woman lost her son on Nov. 29th. When the 60th young people. “I know -- I was part of four minority until we resolve our differences,” Stewart said. precinct tried to investigate, no one wanted to get groups at once, and I felt completely disenfranchised.” Keith Suber, a former gang member, is now a involved,” Gonzales said. “You can call 911 anonymously. Conference tables set up in the gym were filled with construction contractor who formed the Suber Foundation Everyone needs to step up and get involved. There is a anti-violence literature, such as pamphlets on how to to teach construction skills to children in underserved number to call and you can get a $10,000 reward if it leads prevent domestic violence and teen pregnancy; teen communities. He said half of the homicides in New York to an arrest. But no one wants to get involved because parenting; how to avoid gang involvement; information on City can be traced to gang violence. they’re afraid they will be called snitches,” Gonzalez said. sex trafficking; AIDS literature; advice to help convicts “When opportunities are limited for young people, The conference was moderated by Kate avoid becoming repeat offenders; information on reporting gangs are attractive,” he said. “If there is a group of guys Fitzgerald, manager of public affairs for the New crimes anonymously; and a new category: cyberbullying hanging out together, someone will say ‘What will we call York Aquarium on Surf Avenue. Last year the -- harassing people online. ourselves?’ Why do people join gangs? First, as a moneyAquarium hosted an anti-violence art show, “Circus Those on the panel at the conference agreed that besides making enterprise -if there are no jobs, they are looking of the Soul.” the obvious effects of violent video games, music, and to make money; some may have their own children to At the conclusion of the conference, the audience TV shows, children get their attitude toward violence at support. Secondly, some are addicted to drugs or want to clapped and cheered, enthusiastically agreeing with home, from their interaction with family members. They sell them.” the recommendations of the panel. stressed that parents or guardians should teach kids how Suber warned the crowd not to make the same mistakes It’s now up to these Coney residents to put the advice to deal with anger – to communicate rather than resort to he did. “We are trying to bring awareness, to come into action. By ERIC LIMA

Making a stand against violence The Coney Island Coalition Against Violence was created in January after the NYPD reported a rise in 60th Precinct murders. “We’re really trying to change a level of consciousness in the community, because it has to do with the mind set,” says founder Mathylde Frontus.

information (including giving out free condoms). Men United for Change was founded by a team of youthdevelopment professionals from Coney Island. MUC works to support the academic and social development of preteens, teens, and young adults.

Urban Neighborhood Services is a non-profit organization providing financial, educational and health information to Coney Island families. UNS offers free financial seminars, SAT and GED prep classes, job- training and placement information, family counseling and related services, and anti-AIDS and other health

The New York City AntiViolence Project works to eliminate hate violence, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence through counseling, advocacy, organizing, and public education. The Suber Foundation teaches construction skills to children and teens in low-income neighborhoods like Coney Island.

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Viol enc e s tar t s h er e By Joan Pleune Granny Peace Brigade The Toy Industry Association kicked off its Toy Fair 2011 with a gala event where TOTY (Toy Of The Year) awards ere announced. One nominee -- Hasbro’s NERF N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster -- brags it is the “first fully automatic NERF” that easily allows players to “transition to attack mode” and is equipped with “one six-dart clip and three extended clips which hold 18 darts each”. Recommended for children 8+, this little beauty can be yours for a mere $49.99. The NERF N-Strike sounds like it would be a great training tool for future video gamers. Game giant, Activision Blizzard, has announced it will shelve its relatively benign game-line, GUITAR

March 7 to March 21, 2011

HERO, to pour more corporate resources into the development of products such as CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS, the latest edition of a series of extremely violent war games. Why? As Willy Sutton said, it’s where the money is. Albert Einstein called play “the highest form of research,” but it doesn’t take an Einstein to realize that giving children toys that encourage positive behavior and creativity is a wonderful way to prepare them to be responsible adults. The Granny Peace Brigade calls on the toy and game industry to use their considerable financial and creative resources to develop toys that provide positive, peaceful playtime for all our girls and boys. The Granny Peace Parade’s website is www.grannypeacebrigade.org.

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


Cover Story

Stop the ‘crash tax,’ say lawmakers By DAVID J. GLENN publisher@baycurrents.net Imagine for a moment (Warning: It’s not a pleasant prospect): You’re driving along the Belt Parkway on a clear Sunday afternoon. A favorite song is playing on the radio. Quite suddenly, a car in the lane next to you swerves into you. You hear the loud crunch of the driver’s side door caving in, and your car starts careening off to the shoulder. You frantically push on the brake and try to keep control of the car, but it crashes into the fence. The airbag doesn’t deploy for some reason, and you hit your head on the steering wheel. As harrowing as this was, you remain conscious, and except for a bad headache, you feel all right. A passing motorist had called 911, and police and a Fire Department ambulance arrive at the scene. The EMTs want to check you out and likely take you to the hospital, but you remember that the FDNY has just started charging for services in such emergencies and that you would soon get a bill for about $500. You’re not sure if your health insurance (which you’re lucky enough to even have)

will cover it, and you don’t feel all that bad, so you refuse any treatment. When you f inally get home that day, the headache starts getting worse… This scenario could become all too real after July 1, if the FDNY goes ahead with plans to start charging victims for emergency response to car crashes. They even have it categorized like a take-out menu: $490 for a crash or car fire with an injury, $415 for a car fire without injuries, and $365 for a car wreck in which no one is hurt. Several city and state lawmakers are determined to prevent the FDNY from imposing what has become to be known as a “crash tax.” “If this is allowed, it’s really a slippery slope,” said Councilman Peter Vallone, Democrat from Queens, who has introduced legislation to block the FDNY from implementing the “accident response service fee.” “What would be next? Charging families for putting out a house fire?” “We’re already paying for emergency response services in the form of taxes. This practice amounts to double taxation,” said District 27 state Senator Carl Kruger, who

is sponsoring a bill to ban the crash tax anywhere in New York State – as 10 states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, have already done. Twenty-eight other states have such legislation pending. “What’s going to happen is that people will start refusing emergency help when they really need it. They’ll say ‘no thanks’ when the FDNY shows up and then drop dead of internal injuries a day later,” Kruger said. An FDNY spokesman said the

proposed move was the FDNY’s answer to the current city budget crunch; Mayor Bloomberg has directed each agency to find ways to cut spending, add revenue, or both. The spokesman added, though, that if the City Council or state legislature bans the practice, “we obviously won’t do it.” Vallone and Kruger both said they’re confident that their colleagues will join, as Kruger put it, “the widespread outrage” over the proposal.

Sheepshead Bay man accused of two-day killing spree “Rot in Hell!” and “Pig!” onlookers shouted Sunday Feb. 13 as 23-year-old Maksim Gelman was led from the 61st Precinct house on Coney Island Avenue to his arraignment on a slew of murder and assault charges. Gelman, of Sheepshead Bay, a reported drug addict with 10 prior arrests, was accused of going on a 28-hour killing spree starting at the East 27th Street apartment off Emmons Avenue that he shared with his mother, Svetlana Gelman, 48, and stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov. Police said the swirl of violence was triggered when Gelman got into an argument with his mother when she wouldn’t let him take the family’s Lexus. When Kuznetsov intervened, Gelman stabbed him to death, police said. The mother, who was not hurt, called police. He then took the Lexus, drove about a mile to the home of 20-year-old Yelena Bulchenko, where he stabbed to death the girl’s mother, Anna Bulchenko, 56. Gelman reportedly had previously sought to have a relationship with the young woman. When Bulchenko came home about 4:15 a.m. and found her mother dead on the floor, she called police. Before police arrived, Gelman, who was still in the apartment, attacked the young woman with a knife, chasing her into the street and killing her, also slashing the jacket sleeve of a passerby who tried to stop him. “He was obsessed with her, he stalked her, he waited for her and she tried to run and he wouldn’t let her run and he stabbed her to death,” said the young victim’s boyfriend, Gerard Honig. Gelman again sped away in the Lexus, police said, ramming into a green Pontiac Bonneville at East 24th Street and Avenue U. He then got out and pulled out the driver, Arthur DiCrescento, 60, and stabbed him in the chest. (DiCrescento was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was in stable condition.) Bay Currents is your newspaper -- you count!

He then took the Bonneville and drove north on Ocean Avenue, where he struck a 62-year-old man, Stephen Tannenbaum, crossing Avenue R. The victim was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died overnight. Later Friday evening, Gelman was reported hiding in a garage on East 18th Street near Avenue R, but all police found when they converged on the area was the abandoned Bonneville with the motor running. Gelman was next seen at about 12:50 a.m. Saturday at St. Johns Place in Crown Heights, hailing a livery cab driven by Fitz Fullerton, 55. Gelman stabbed Fullerton in the shoulder and neck, and the cab struck another vehicle, police said. Gelman then left the cab and attacked another driver, Sheldon Pottinger, 25, on Eastern Parkway near Rockaway Avenue. “I was just waiting for my wife and this guy ran up, pulled out a knife and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you — get out of the car’ and started stabbing,” said Pottinger, who was slashed across the head. His black 2001 Nissan was later found abandoned in Queens near a subway station. Early Saturday morning, a woman told officers at a 96th Street subway station in Manhattan that a man fitting Gelman’s description knocked a newspaper out of her hand and said, “Do you believe what they’re writing about me?” Later, on a northbound No. 3 train at 34th Street, police say Gelman, reportedly saying, “You’re going to die,” stabbed a 40 year-old-man in the neck, injuring him. He then pounded on the motorman’s door, claiming to be a police officer. Two transit police officers who were on board looking for Gelman came out of the compartment and arrested him after a struggle. “You know it’s so horrendous and bizarre,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference following the arrest. “We have no reason that we can To advertise call 347.492.4432

give you as to why he did this.” Police said Gelman has 10 prior arrests that include drugs and graffiti, and that he was arrested last month for crack possession. The two-day, three-borough spree of violence shocked the Russian communities in Sheepshead Bay, where Gelman had lived for 10 years since emigrating from the Ukraine with his parents. He was known to be addicted to drugs. “We have feared a tragedy like this,” said Sergey Kovalyov, president of the Russian-American Community Coalition of New York based in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. “We’ve been warning for years about the substance abuse crisis in the Russian-American community and the fact that city and state agencies have not dealt with it.” The RACCNY is seeking state and city funding for its substance-abuse prevention and treatment programs, which it says have proven to be very effective.

‘We can prevent this from happening again’ By ANGELINA TALA tala@baycurrents.net Russian-American professionals in drug prevention, treatment and recovery are calling for greater awareness of the growing crisis of substance abuse in the Russian-American community, which they stressed affects all New Yorkers. At a Feb. 21 press conference, organizers of “Project PITaR” from the Russian-American Community Coalition of New York cited the recent killing spree allegedly perpetrated by Maksim Gelman, a drug addict, and the August 2009 horrific car wreck on the Continue on page 17 Page 5


Financial Currents Do not pay any taxes! (If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for you…) By Joseph Reisman How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t pay any taxes”? My accountant takes real good care of me. I haven’t paid a dime in taxes in years” ? Does that outrageous statement sound familiar? Maybe it’s your brother-in-law, or a fellow Soccer Mom, or a co-worker at the office. And so you think to yourself, “What am I doing wrong? How come I’m paying taxes and so-and-so says he/she pays nothing? How do they do it?” Is it really possible to pay “zero taxes”? For purposes of this article, let’s give your “no-tax” friend or relative a name. Let’s call him “Charlie” (or if he is a she, just think “Charlene”). OK, what is Charlie up to? What’s his secret? Charlie has no secret. He’s not doing anything that you should be doing. Do not be envious of Charlie, and here’s why I can think of at least five reasons you should ignore whatever Charlie says about his “no-tax” situation. REASON #1: Charlie is a liar. Every family has one, so don’t feel bad. Let’s face it, some people just like to indulge in fabrications to make themselves feel good. Charlie is telling you a big fat lie because Charlie has “issues.” Nuff said? REASON #2: Charlie is pond scum. OK, hear me out on this one. I don’t mean to offend you if Charlie is a close and dear relative, or your best friend, but I’m going to give it to you straight: Charlie cheats on his tax return, and he cheats big time. There are plenty of folks out there like Charlie. He’s one of the reasons that you and I pay so much in taxes

-- he doesn’t report all his income, and he deducts bogus expenses by the thousands. He and his accountant may even be in cahoots on this. Charlie brings in his records and his accountant crunches the numbers, then calls Charlie and says, “You owe $5,000.” So Charlie rummages around in his files and somehow manages to come up with another batch of expenses that miraculously reduce his balance due to zero. It’s like magic! End result: Charlie’s tax return is a big lie. Charlie is a thief. Charlie should be put in jail for the tens of thousands in taxes he has illegally withheld from the government over the years. REASON #3: Charlie is stupid. Again, I’m sorry if I’m being too hard on Charlie. But some people are so clueless about taxes that if they have no balance due on their return, or if they are getting a refund, they mistakenly believe they didn’t pay any tax that year. And believe it or not, this is actually a very common misconception that thousands of people cling to. Ah, to be so blissfully ignorant! I hope you are not so naive to think that the “bottom line” on your tax return tells the whole story about your tax liability. It doesn’t. REASON #4: Charlie is broke. Charlie may actually pay zero taxes because --are you ready for this one? – Charlie doesn’t make any money! Charlie owns a small business or works full-time at his self-employment activity, and Charlie may rake in hundreds of thousands in income from sales of his product

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or service -- but Charlie’s business spends more than it brings in, and Charlie’s business has a loss every year. So Charlie doesn’t really have a tax problem. Instead Charlie has any number of other problems. He has a marketing problem, or a management problem, or a personnel problem. Charlie’s business is failing, and paying zero taxes is just a symptom of a business that will eventually close. REASON #5: Charlie is just scraping by. Charlie’s business may not be losing money every year, but it’s not really making much either. He has a small profit -- enough to keep him busy. His business may even “look” profitable, but it’s really the classic shoestring operation. So now, I ask you, do you really want to pay zero taxes? People who don’t pay taxes are usually in one of these five categories: Chronic Liars, Pond Scum, Stupid, Broke, or Just Scraping By. The purpose of business is to be profitable. The unavoidable result of a profitable business is taxes. And yes, you should do everything legally possible to reduce those taxes. But if you are going to be successful, you are going to pay some taxes. When it comes to taxes, stay away from Charlie.

Tax accountant Joseph reisman’s practice is at 2751 Coney Island ave 718.332.1040

Restaurant Review

Lotus Thai – experience the palate of Thailand!

Lotus Thai arrived in oceanfront Brooklyn last summer with the expressed purpose of providing residents with authentic and aromatic Thai cuisine – and they are succeeding with flying colors! In its sleek, modern setting along Coney Island Avenue, Lotus offers spicy variety at a price that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Each one of their appetizer offerings are under $8 – a pleasant surprise considering the quality and flavor profile. Samosa and Shumai are homemade.

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Their ground peanut Thai chili sauce is excellent. The sauce provides the perfect spicy kick and is exactly what an adventurous eater needs to raise this dish to the next level. The mock duck tofu tastes and looks like real duck, the one would never guess (unless you know it) that it is a really vegetarian dish. Lotus standout appetizer is the Golden Bag– four crisp, golden wontons filled with sautéed shrimp, crab meat, carrots and glass noodles. Sweet, spicy and a textural experience, these cups will push all your hunger buttons.

The Tom Yum soup is a hearty and fiery broth served with shrimp, lemongrass, fresh lime juice, mushroom and coriander leaves. All of Lotus Pad Thai’s entrees come with your choice of beef, chicken or shrimp for under $10. Lotus also offers fish dishes with the obvious standout being the fried whole red snapper. At under $20, it’s a mouth-watering bargain that has to be eaten to be believed. The lunch menu at Lotus is another bargain. For $5.95, customers choose from 16 dishes served with jasmine rice, soup and salad. There are, of course, non-spicy options at Lotus and all of the dishes can have

their heat adjusted to taste. So even if spicy isn’t your passion, there are still many delicious reasons to give Lotus a try. The perfect compliment to Lotus palate of flavors and colors is their drink’s menu. All their drinks are based on the famous Thai Rum – Mekong, the blend made of sugar cane and rice. Try Happy Budda – mixology of Mekong, Luchee pure and additional secret spices. Ask for Mango Moxito –the favorite drink of Ernest Hemingway. If the renowned writer could have visited Lotus, he definitely would have included this unique place in his stories. We know your Lotus visit will be a truly noble experience!

Lotus Thai Authentic Thai Cuisine

1924 Coney Island Avenue Brooklyn NY 11230 • 718.513.6686 Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – midnight Friday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Lunch Specials: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.

March 7 to March 21, 2011

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Opinion If you think the weather has been tough, wait until you see what our mayor has in store for us! By I. Freidin ifreidin@baycurrents.net No one has to be reminded of the horrible winter or the callous neglect by the Bloomberg administration during the first, and worst, of the storms. But in addition to the discomfort and inconvenience suffered by all – and severe hardship by some -- millions of dollars have been spent on snow removal as well as the loss of millions more in fines due to the suspension of parking rules. So who’s going to pay? If history is any indication, our mayor will be upping the enforcement quotas considerably in his attempt to squeeze that money from the middle class and those less fortunate. Yes, while his billionaire cronies receive tax breaks for developments, many unwanted and intrusive; the money to run the city comes out of our pockets well above and beyond the high taxes we already pay. It is apparent that the Bloomberg system dictates that quotas are imposed upon city agencies and left to the commissioners and local commanders to be creative in how they’re filled. And creative they are! To review just a few of the atrocities perpetrated on the public, tickets have been issued to homeowners for litter strewn on their lawns, though not necessarily home at the time. The Health Department recently issued three tickets to a small restaurant for flies; one for each fly. Motorists are prime victims. Tickets are issued for parking at cutouts midblock, out of sight of the driver. New York’s version of a speed trap has become commonplace as police and

traffic officers lie in wait to ambush drivers for offences Michael, sends out his tax collectors to bleed the public real or imagined. One of the most reprehensible; not to dry. And this is the person who wants to be remembered mention hypocritical; is that for “blocking an intersection”. as our city’s best mayor…worst is more like it. Remember, As traffic lights change it is often inevitable in some people died because of his negligence during the blizzard. places that cars back up into the next As corrupt as some of our mayors have been intersection. If they’re protruding just historically, no one has usurped the power a bit; not necessarily impeding cross or lorded over the populace as he has. traffic; an agent jumps out and scans One thing coming out of the blizzard the registration; then leaves the car in was the recognition by so many that this a traffic lane; now blocking traffic; guy is neither our friend nor does he have while writing the summons. And our interests at heart. The outcry has been what about the proposed imposition virtually universal as people are victimized of fees by the Fire Department and collectively. When a person receives a EMS for services for which we summons however, as unjust as it may be, it already pay taxes? is but a lone victim and thus, as loud as they These are just a few examples of may cry, it is only one voice in the dark. A what occurs routinely, victimizing solution is for citizens to stand up together and After two weeks of having to suspend citizens of our city -- tantamount to go to their City Council members en masse alternate-side parking rules because of the out and out robbery. And for some, to fight these horrible injustices perpetrated snow, the Bloomberg administration placed it it truly hinders their ability to pay by City Hall. As individuals, we are easily back in force as of Monday, Feb. 7, ostensibly because street-cleaning could resume. But, bills or feed their children. But try ignored and most council members will, at many streets remained like this portion of to go to traffic court to plead “Not best sympathize, or have a staff member do Avenue K near Ocean Avenue on Tuesday, Guilty,” where enforcement officers it for them. If enough constituents complain Feb. 8 -- hardly ready for street-cleaning, but fertile ground for ticket revenue. commonly lie and hearing officers loudly enough however, they will act, as we’ve are in the employ of the Department so often seen. of Finance, the agency that collects Can we afford to sit back any longer? Isn’t the fines. Reminiscent of justice in the Soviet Union and it time we put an end to this tyranny? If not, our pockets other tyrannical nations, isn’t it? will be emptied one by one. But what can we expect from a mayor who considers And let’s not forget that while shaking out our pockets, himself to be, not just above the law, but law itself; as were Michael Bloomberg’s personal fortune has multiplied medieval monarchs. Prince John, or should we say King several times since he became mayor!

Want to light up at the beach? Fuhgeddahboudit! by the bay Currents staff If you’re a Bay-area smoker who has always taken a (coughing?) sigh of relief to be able to light up at the beach or at the park, you’re likely none too pleased with the new ban on smoking at any of the city’s 1,700 public parks, 14 miles of beaches, or even pedestrian plazas such as Times Square. Mayor Bloomberg on Feb. 22 signed into law the ban, which the city council had voted 36-12 to enact earlier in February. Bloomberg, who early in his tenure led a successful fight to put out the smoke at restaurants and bars in the city as well as at playgrounds and outdoor sporting events and concerts, had pushed for the new legislation. The law, dubbed the Smoke-Free Air Act, becomes effective 90 days after the signing. “Our efforts over the last nine years have resulted in more than 350,000 fewer smokers, and contributed to New Yorkers living 19 months longer than they did in 2002,” Bloomberg said in a statement. Before the council members took their vote, opponents decried what they deemed to be a growing “nanny state” in the five boroughs, and said that enacting such a strict ban on a legal activity trampled on civil liberties. “Whether we like it or not, smokers have rights too, they pay taxes and we are harassing them every time we pass laws like this,” said Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich. (Ulrich has not been as generous in terms of another legal

– but decidedly much healthier – activity: bicycling. He proposed in January that the city require bicyclists to get licenses; the idea went nowhere.) “We’re moving towards a totalitarian society if in fact we’re going to have those kinds of restrictions on New Yorkers,” said Councilman Robert Jackson of Manhattan, who said he was not a smoker himself. Proponents cited the high asthma rates in the city, particularly among children and teens, and the risk of cancer and other serious diseases attributed to second-hand smoke. “I support this legislation because second-hand smoke is a health problem for all New Yorkers, especially for families who have children with chronic asthma,” said Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the bill’s key sponsor. Council Speaker Christine Quinn added, “Fifty-seven percent of New York City non-smokers have [a nicotine byproduct] in their body, which indicates they have been exposed to second-hand smoke.” City health officials say that anyone within three feet of a smoker is exposed to about the same levels of secondhand smoke – whether indoors or outdoors. The law, to carry a $50 fine for violation, is to be enforced by Parks Department agents, not police. There is one way, though, you’ll be able to legally light up on a city beach or park – get a role in a movie. Actors doing so as part of a theatrical production will be exempt.

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City’s response to Blizzard of 2010 ‘an embarrassment’ By ANGELINA TALA tala@baycurrents.net City officials and southern Brooklyn residents are blasting the snow-removal attempts by Department of Sanitation during December’s Blizzard of 2010. At a Feb. 9 hearing at I.S. 278 in Marine Park called by the City Council – one of such hearings called in each borough since the devastating storm – several residents said they were literally trapped in their homes, not able to shop for food or go to doctors, not seeing any snowplows for days. “I have never seen anything like this! It was terrible!” said a Marine Park resident. “Not only were the plows not put down, it took days before the plows even came around. Where were you [Sanitation workers] when you were not plowing? Now we are holding you responsible, where were you?” On the night of the Dec. 26 blizzard, a Bay area 4-year-old boy fell, hit his head, and started bleeding from his skull. His frantic family called a friend who owned a snowplow to bring them to the hospital. The friend, Richard Menechino, picked up the family but got stuck on a block between a car and truck that were submerged in the snow. The family repeatedly called 9/11, but the ambulance never made it. Luckily the boy was all right, but Menechino and the family were not happy. “That poor little

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boy, Heaven forbid something happened to him,” said Menechino. “I did not see one snow plow!” said, Menechino. Menechino feels the Department of Sanitation focused mainly on the moneymaking neighborhoods, and neglected Brooklyn. “Times Square was cleaned up real quick, but the streets of Brooklyn, even around the hospitals, were neglected,” he said. “I believe that the mayor’s management response to the December blizzard was an embarrassment,” said council member Jumaane D. Williams. “This was a storm where people died!” Adding to the anger, many residents who were unable to dig out their cars got parking tickets once the alternate side parking went back into effect. It was clear that cars were buried in snow, but parking enforcement agents shoved tickets onto the snow-covered windshields. State Senator Carl Kruger argued that alternate side parking should not have gone into effect. Directing his comments to Sanitation official Iggy Terranova, he said, “You try to find a place to park! You try to move a car, and in the interim parking meters have to be fed! I wouldn’t mind feeding a meter if I could get to it!” “Despite our efforts our snowplow operation did not meet the standards in which New York have come to expect of the Department of Sanitation, which we also understand is not acceptable,” Terranova admitted. See I. Freidin’s column, page 7.

Page 7


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Exterminator won’t let the bedbugs bite By DAVID J. GLENN publisher@baycurrents.net It is often said that what first seems like a hardship, can have good consequences later on. Jeff Eisenberg, for one, would have little trouble applying this concept to something as disgusting and annoying as bedbugs. Because the 44-year-old founder of Pest-Away in Manhattan was called upon to get rid of the bedbugs that had invaded Bill Clinton’s Harlem office, Eisenberg was able to arrange for the former president – who normally commands upwards of $100,000 a speech – to address for free a fundraising convention of a children’s aid organization in Israel. How exactly did a CPA-turned-bug-killer become the goto guy to battle the resurgence in the city of bedbugs (after a lull of nearly half a century)? Actually, by trial and error. Eisenberg, sitting in his cramped office on the Upper East Side with a half-dozen of his 30 employees, told Bay Currents he’d had some “bad experiences” with exterminators, and decided in 1992 that “there was a better way of doing it.” He said all the technologies and chemicals would just get rid of roaches and other insects temporarily, but the pests would inevitably come back. The attitude of most exterminators was to “just treat, not solve, the problem,” he said. So he set out to develop environmentally friendly substances and procedures that would eradicate existing infestations and keep the bugs away. This proved to be invaluable in the fight against bedbugs. When the critters started their comeback last year, “the industry was totally unprepared for them,” Eisenberg said. They hadn’t been around since the 1960s, and no one knew how to deal with them. The old-timers who remembered when the warning “Don’t

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let the bedbugs bite” was meant literally, couldn’t help, either, come in after-hours in unmarked vans, and don leather since the chemicals they had used at the time, such as DDT, jackets to look like plumbers or contractors were no longer being manufactured or even legal. “Often people will be in denial,” Eisenberg said. There was another problem, too – the stigma. “People “They’ll say it’s got to be something else. They tell me how wouldn’t want to tell anyone they had bedbugs. It was they’re immaculately clean, that they shower three times a associated with poverty or filth.” day, that they have cleaning ladies That’s actually as false as the bugs’ coming in all the time.” name. Not only do they make themselves The denial may exacerbate the at home in far more locations than just problem – the longer it’s put off, the beds, they have no concern about wealth more time the bugs have to proliferate. or cleanliness. “I’ve been called to And being in a higher tax mansions in Westchester,” said Eisenberg. bracket may actually make things The tiny insects lately have infested worse. Wealthier families are everything from fancy offices (like more apt to travel around the Clinton’s) to TV newsrooms (like Fox country and around the world News studios in Manhattan) to Carnegie – and can bring back the bloodHall to white-shoe law firms to movie sucking bugs as they cling to theaters, subways, and schools. clothing and luggage. Neither do they care whether a home is Eisenberg could fill a book with messy or immaculate. They’re not interested Entrepreneurial exterminator Jeff all the war stories he can tell from in crumbs of food or dirt, as roaches are – the bedbug battlefields. In one Eisenberg examines one of the tiny pests that have re-emerged in Brooklyn elegant apartment on the Upper just in the blood they suck out from your and the rest of the city. skin, Eisenberg said. East Side, the infestation was so The main reason the bugs have been entrenched the walls appeared to spreading everywhere is that they are highly mobile – they be moving. At another location, the walls, ceilings, and hitch a ride on clothing as people walk around the city or floors of an apartment actually had to be removed to get travel around the globe. rid of the more than 100,000 bedbugs that had invaded. Eisenberg and his team of exterminators used a variety Eisenberg charges anywhere from $160 for a small job to of “green” methods, including 285-degree “dry steam,” tens of thousands of dollars for a huge undertaking. He also dogs that can actually sniff out bedbugs, and substances does about $30,000 a year in pro bono work, he said. harmful to the pests but not to humans. Pest-Away has gone from an average of two calls a He’s been summoned by an array of celebrities from week two years ago to some 100 a week now -- even various walks of life. To the inevitable request to give from other countries. Eisenberg is planning to move to a names, he’ll cite a lawyer/client-like confidentiality (except midtown office four times bigger, to accommodate more in cases like Clinton’s that already have been publicized). staff and equipment. To protect his clients’ privacy, his workers often will The bugs “are everywhere,” he said

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For bacteria, your cell phone is a ticket to ride A young, happy, healthy mother of three, goes grocery shopping one day. She pushes her cart along, putting various items into her wagon. The woman sees her friend, who asks to borrow her cell phone. She readily agrees, thinking nothing of it -- after all, they are friends. She parts with her friend and makes a call to her husband to tell him she’ll be home soon, talking into the same mouth piece her friend just used, pushing the same buttons her friend just touched. She doesn’t notice the small cut on her finger from the bagel she had sliced that morning when making lunches for her family. The woman’s small cut is an open wound, a breeding ground for contamination… waiting to be infected… waiting to make this happy, healthy woman, so very sad and sick. Recent attention has been brought to the potentially fatal bacteria called MRSA, methicilin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as a “staph” infection. MRSA differs from a normal staph infection, however, because drugs that treat ordinary staph infections are not effective against MRSA. The use of these drugs can, in fact, lead to serious illness and more resistant bacteria. Antibiotics have become overused -- patients are treated with antibiotics for viral infections or for bacterial infections that will clear up on their own. This overuse has caused strains of bacteria to become resistant to these antibiotics -- MRSA is a form of the staph infection which is now resistant to penicillin type drugs, such as methicilin. These deadly bacteria became widespread in the1990s in hospital patients. Because it is a disease of the skin, hospitals are breeding grounds for conditions that are contracted through touch. Hospital-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) can occur in the skin, wounds, at the site of IV tubes, or even in the eyes, bones, heart, or blood. It is estimated that 1.2

million hospital patients contract MRSA yearly, and another 423,000 hospital patients become carriers without becoming sick themselves.

In the past, MRSA was more likely to be found in people who had weakened immune systems. Recently, though, it has become more widespread in people who are otherwise healthy. This MRSA, known as community-

associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) can be found in the skin or in the nose of about one third of the general population, and the germ

usually remains harmless. The bacteria, however, can enter through any cut or open wound and infect an otherwise healthy person. The disease is more likely to occur in young children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, in older adults, or in people who are ill or who have weakened immune systems. The disease starts out as small, red bumps, similar to pimples in its appearance, but will then turn into deep, painful abscesses. The MRSA bacteria are not only responsible for skin infections, but also for soft-tissue infections and some serious forms of pneumonia as well. In May 2007, NBC reported on the bacteria that can be found in cell phones. An abundance of bacteria was found on cell phones, including diphtheroids, streptococcus -- which includes the bacteria that causes strep throat, meningitis, and bacterial pneumonia -- and staphylococcus, which causes staph infections and MRSA. Since staphylococcus is

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found that hundreds of thousands of bacteria can breed on a cell phone at any given time -- more than on the average toilet! Because most people do not regularly clean their cell phones, these germs are easily passed from someone who might be a carrier, to an unsuspecting, healthy individual. In fact, when Professor Gerba’s own niece contracted MRSA, he tested her cell phone and found the deadly bacteria on it. Other diseases that can be spread from cell phone use include the flu and the common cold. Safety Shield, Inc. a privately held New York State corporation headquartered in Brooklyn, markets affordable and scientifically advanced products for personal safety. They are a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of scientifically advanced personal safety protection devices and products. They are now marketing “The Original Mobile

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Taconic State Parkway caused by a driver who was reportedly drunk and who had taken marijuana. Project organizers gathered together to reach out to the media in hopes of expanding their services with government funding. “We can prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” said Sergey Kovalyov, RACCNY founder and president. R ACCNY members have written to New York gover nors and to the New York State Off ice of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, war ning them of the dangers posed by the growing level of dr ug and alcohol abuse in the Russian-American community, “but nobody wanted to listen to us,” said Kovalyov. “There were too many mistakes from too many organizations,” said Mikhail Shats, a social worker and RACCNY member. “Maksim Gelman was arrested twice for drugs -- the first time with marijuana and the second time with crack-cocaine. There were no referrals from the NYPD to any treatment program, which was very strange. He dropped out of school, he was trying to find a job

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but he was addicted to Angel Dust, so it was impossible. It looked like nobody was trying to give him any kind of help -- he was ejected by our society. I’m sure the mother tried to find help, but even if you try it’s hard to find the right services. It seems like nobody wants to hear until something dramatic happens.” Many parents do not notice if their child is a substance abuser, the RACCNY stressed. “We need a comprehensive program for reaching parents with educational information on how to prevent, detect, and successfully treat their children’s substance abuse problems,” said RACCNY Chairwoman Z. Konovalova. RACCNY officials recently wrote to government and city officials regarding the issue of drug and alcohol abuse in the community; they are waiting for a response and hoping it’s a positive one. “If the current situation with drug and alcohol abuse in our state is continued to be ignored and not changed, it’s only a matter of time for such a tragedy to be repeated,” said Kovalyov. “The next victim could be you or someone you care about.”

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A shock to my thinking By DAVID J. GLENN publisher@baycurrents.net As I daily go over newspapers and news websites, I often come across items that at first glance are not closely related, but after a little reflection come together to shake up my thinking. This happened of late with these two items: • The obituary of Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, who died of cancer on Feb. 21 at age 84 • The report of a controversial billboard put up in SoHo in Manhattan Nathanson had been a New York abortion doctor who was one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (later renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League), and was instrumental in the watershed 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized most abortions. But then, with the advent of sonogram imagery revealing the developing fetus with its heart beating, Nathanson turned 180 degrees and was widely quoted to say that abortion was “the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States.” In 1984 he directed and narrated the film, The Silent Scream in cooperation with the National Right to Life Committee. The billboard, posted by an anti-abortion group, declared: “The most dangerous place for an African American baby is in the womb” over the picture of a young, doe-eyed black girl. The group’s website, Thatsabortion.com, reports on nationwide statistics showing that while blacks comprise less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, black women account for more than 36 percent of abortions. The group also reports that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has more than three-quarters of its clinics in minority neighborhoods. And, the group points out, Planned Parenthood in 2007 facilitated

more than 305,000 abortions, yet made only 4,912 adoption referrals. “That’s 62 abortions for every one adoption referral,” the website states. The reason why I pulled these two items very close to each other in my thinking was not just because they were both related to abortion, but because they were a kind of electric shock to my comfortable, usually liberal frame of reference. In my years as your typical ’60s hippie-sans-longhair-and-drugs, anti-war, pro-civil rights student journalist and protester, I would consider “those prolifers” as right-wing, Bible-thumping vacuum-heads who wanted to relegate women – poor, minority women in particular – to coat hangers if they were faced with an unwanted pregnancy. But the billboard shot a big hole in that perception – the stats show that it is really the abortion advocates who are victimizing these low-income women and their future children. The case of Dr. Nathanson similarly struck a nerve. It reminded me of an interview I did in the early 1970s on the NYU radio station with a local abortion doctor. I was really trying simply to be the moderator without taking a stand either way on the abortion issue, but we got into a discussion of abortion procedures, which can include literally scraping or sucking the fetus out of the womb. When I asked the doctor how he felt when he used these methods, he admitted, “It’s not very pleasant.” I was reminded of another event – in 1991, when I saw the sonogram of my son in the first trimester. I remember the anguish my wife and I both suffered when we were told by the doctors that she might have a miscarriage (they obviously made a mistake – our son is now a healthy 20-year-old). I don’t necessarily think Roe v. Wade should be overturned. But there has to be a middle ground between banning all abortions in all circumstances, and maintaining the current situation in which the womb is indeed a most dangerous place.

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